When the US passed 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic this past June, Robert Meisnere decided to alert the people who live near his house in DC’s Woodley Park neighborhood. One of them, the Vice President of the United States, drives by Meisnere’s house frequently on his way to his residence on the United States Naval Observatory campus.
Pence is nominally the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, so Meisnere added “Hey Pence” to what he describes as the “really cheap wood” he painted the count on. (“I didn’t really think it all the way through when I went to the store,” he says.) Since the summer, Meisnere and his wife have updated the sign every week or two. The count currently stands at “211,035+.” (The last two digits, he explains, refer to the number of weeks since the first US death from Covid; he expects to update it again this weekend.)
“It felt like it was something that my wife and I could do to just kind of make sure he knew we were paying attention,” Meisnere, who works as a property manager, says. He’s been working from home for four days every week and in the office one day; his wife works from home every day, and their daughter goes to school virtually. One of his cousins got Covid and recovered, and he considers himself very fortunate that that’s the extent to which the virus has touched his life so far.
Meisnere felt like the administration was more or less ignoring the coronavirus pandemic for much of the year, and though he doesn’t have a voting member of Congress, Meisnere says he decided to use his proximity to Pence to send the message “Hey, keep an eye on this.”
“It was an opportunity I had that not a lot of other people had,” he says of his location.